On Friday afternoon in Pocahontas County Circuit Court, Judge James Rowe sentenced former Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant Bradley C. Totten to 10 to 20 years in prison for the felony of sexual abuse by a parent, custodian or guardian.
Totten, 41, of Hillsboro, pled guilty to the offense in July. Grand juries indicted Totten on 19 felony counts in April 2012, and 47 counts in August 2012, involving sexual abuse of women and girls during the period 1995 to 2010.
In a plea agreement, Totten pled guilty to sexually abusing a 17-year old girl. Rowe read a victim’s statement to the court, which indicated that the sexual abuse began when the victim was 15 years old.
Rowe said Totten’s criminal conduct had “destroyed the fabric of the community,” and greatly diminished public trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The judge told Totten, “If there were no intervention, you would not have stopped your predatory conduct.”
“The bottom line is that you used a position of trust over a 17-year old to have sex,” the judge added.
The judge said many had “turned their heads,” when they should have stood up against wrongdoing.
“Law enforcement in this county has a similar obligation, to stand up for what is good, what is right,” he said. “Historically, in this county, people have not stood up. They have not stood up against what’s wrong, what’s inappropriate; what’s illegal and impermissible. They’ve turned their heads and looked the other way. That has created an environment, in this jurisdiction, of mistrust between the public and law enforcement. People have lost confidence in law enforcement.”
Rowe sentenced Totten to not less than 10 and no more than 20 years in the penitentiary and fined the former deputy $5,000. The judge ordered protective custody for the former lieutenant during his incarceration.
Special Prosecutor Brian Parsons, of Fayette County, was asked if the sentence was fair.
“Well, I do,” he said. “It’s difficult, because anytime there’s a sentence like this, you think that it’s certainly going to impede the defendant’s life, but then you also think about all the lives that have been affected. On one hand, you hate to see a person removed from their family. But, on the other side, the damage that’s been done is very hard to calculate. So, in light of the totality of the crime and in light of his situation, I do think it’s air.”
Parsons told Bluefield television station WVNS that law enforcement should take away a lesson from the long prison sentence.
“I hope it means that law enforcement will take an example from this and – no matter where you are – people are always watching you when you’re a member of public safety,” he said. “That trust is very difficult to gain, but very easy to lose.”